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Saturday 9th April - Vets and Skis n'skins

Last day in Serre and people here still having a great time in 26 degrees!

Last night we were talking about conditions etc over the years, and many years ago the norm was that you'd often have to get the lift back down - and that if you think about it, all the big restaurants / nursery areas are at the top of the gondola stations / midway stations where there is always snow.

It's only in the last 10 -15 years with snow cannons that they have been able to produce the snow that is more or less lasting all season enabling people to ski back down to resort level.

Ok you can't do anything about the afternoon slush on skis, except that Elaine has migrated back on to the snowboard over the past couple of weeks and has had a great time.

As for me I've been hiking up very steep footpaths and then putting snowshoes on once out of the trees and rotten snow - and such a shame that I can't cycle as I'd be out their with all the other roadies enjoying the summer conditions.

And what I've seen is how all the forecasts are total bollox we've had wall to wall sunshine the past three weeks and that was not forecast! Even on daily basis forecast was often for cloud & light snow, you would have though they could have at least got one day right!

Took Kiki to the vet this morning for her jabs, we can't leave till 24hrs have past since she had them, so we're staing with brother tonight (North of Grenoble) and then scheduled for a 17:20 Eurotunnel Sunday.

End of season deals on kit and Elaine now has Fritschi Diamir Freeride touring bindings on her Scott Realms 239Euro all mounted etc and best of all Black Diamond skins cut to fit for 90E - really nice All Mountain setup she now has

I'll be selling her Dynastar touring set up - don't have all the details to hand at the moment - skis are Legend 4800 166 Dynastar toruing bindings and skins.


Friday 8th April - Carl's cracked it

Thursday 7th April - Made it to the Col de Granon
Set out on a mission to get to the Col so armed with snow shoes set off lower down from yesterday at 1780m and climbed up through the trees following the footpath. Very steep at times and route finding quite hard when snow covered the path. Had to take snow shoes on and off umpteen times and snow was really rotten not good for snow shoes and not great for the knee but I took it really easy and only tweaked it once.

Out of the trees it was then a case of route finding to keep out of the deep rotten snow and stick to the shoulders, once I made it  to the road it was not too bad as I followed in the tracks of others who had come up the road (the easy way).

Again superb weather, climbing in shorts and t-shirt to the Col at 2413m.

Started off coming down the road, but soon went off piste and headed down the pastures / terraces and rocks and across the alpine airfield before joining the road again.

Kiki was quite bizarre in stopping where we parked the van yesterday whilst I carried on and I thought I'd lost her! Turned out she was not interested in going further down, so I had to pick her up and then attach my ski pole to her like a lead in order to get her to come with me, tres strange!

Here's the Garmin Track which shows route. heart rate, elevation etc

Elaine unable to blog tonight as she's working here (at Mojos) on a Hello shoot for next week, quite amazing how she's managing to arrange it all from here with the PR's back in the UK with a glass of Kier by the laptop!

Wednsday 6th April - Nearly Col de Granon

Again so warm / hot crazy temps - left Sigs N'Carl in bed and we headed off up towards the Col de Granon in the van and we were able to drive way past where in the past I've had to skin from. We eventually parked up near an old summer village with a cute little Chapel that I wanted to show Elaine, little did I know that we could have driven up another couple of kms!

From the village we hiked up a similar route to what I skinned up last year and came across 6 chamois though Kiki was totally oblivious to them.

We eventually went back on to the road and walked past some "oldies" who then went cross country and got in front of us again as we stuck to the road which was all highly amusing. Views as ever were spectacular looking across to the Dome du Monetier. We eventually turned round at around 2200ms with snow on the road though pretty sure if we followed the road on the snow would have gone as it was more South facing.

Descent not too bad on the knees as we followed the road down all the way, being overtaken by the Oldies again!

From Elaine / |Lainey

Hiked with Le Gav and La Kiki this morning in beautiful sunny weather with wild flowers peaking through the turf and amazing views of the mountains. Sussing out ski touring for next season. Got a call mid stream-crossing from my agent re a shoot next week for Hello. Back to reality, she said. But, un moment, what is reality - walking in beautiful mountains on a spring day or styling in world where only reality is how high this season's Manolo's are?

Then back to take Carl and Sigs, on board and skis respectively, to lower slopes in hot hot sunshine yet enough snow still for playing on (don't know how they are keeping it as it is like La Plage de Les Alps down here).But Sigs and Carl had good time, Carl now linking turns.

Et Voila, three happy children!, Gav, Sigs and Carl!! And dog...Le result de jour!

Now enjoying Kir O'Clock at Mojos then back to cook chicken curry....! Definitely The Way To Spend A Hard Day At the Office. have work stacking up for return. So guess that's goodbye Reality....Eeeeeek!!!


Tuesday 5th April - Puy St Vincent
Should have added to yesterday's blog that I had a phone call from Andy, who was out with the rest of the Team a couple of weeks back. I told him how the pistes were really good and how empty they were, to which he replied that he was in La Grave on his way to Montgenevre with the family on a last minute holiday. In fact we heard that the deals for this week and next are just stupid, £90 for the week at the Aigle inc flights, transfers and food!

This morning as I suspected Sig's was not up to snowboarding, with her foot slightly swollen, hopefully we can get her back on skis tomorrow.

We'd arranged to go over to Puy St Vincent for a snowboarding lesson for Carl & Sigs from Corrine who is an ESF instructor over there and a friend of the family so in the end it was only Carl, and probably just as well as Corrine really made him work, and in his words she was so much better than the instructor they had on Saturday and he's progressing quite well, though now on the third day of pain.

But has to be said, these conditions are so much better for learning to snowboard than on the hard bolier plate pistes earlier on in the year, slush is your friend!

Elaine's out somewhere on skis and Sigs and I are attached to the laptops having gone inside when it clouded over, but been so hot & sunny today, and looks like the cloud has passed!

From Elaine

Had a ski while Carl was having his lesson. At around 1:30pm I was going up second chair lift to top of Puy and, I swear, that as far as I could see (and my vison is pretty good considering poss burnt retinas from never wearing glasses - teehee Tim), there was not one person on a lift or a piste. It was like I was the only person in the resort..and the snow was pretty good down to 1600.

Seriously considering touring bindings on my Scott Realms for next season - and selling my Dynastar Legends inc bindings (Andy - want to buy?). Also skins. Just, gulp, a lotta dosh, right now even at end of season prices - and I can't even wear it !!!

The Dog's Blag

Was having a sniff for scrap metal around this new bar when, Oh My Dog, this Orangatang's head on a horse's body was suddenly slobbering down at me. Well, I started to growl but it came out as a very very high squeek like a mouse on helium. Then I tried again. Grrrsqueeeeeeeeeeeek.

Himself tried to disown me, especially when I jumped into his arms shivering AND squeeking..!!

Monday 4th April - Shopping, WiFI & Snowboarding & Girl Down!
Dropped Elaine, Sig's & Carl off at Aravet and I went into Briancon to do some shopping. Came back via Chantermerle and dropped in at The Station to do some work as I actually had some stuff to do for a couple of clients and whilst at The Station Elaine texted me to say Sig's had fallen off a poma and had hurt her foot. So packed up and went to see them, initially was not too sure how bad Sigs was, so took them all to another place where Elaine could take Carl up easier lifts and Sigs could watch from the terrace.

Day seemed to be made up of a fair amount of me running around (Taxi) and I ended up not doing all I'd set out to do, so was not a happy bunny later on, eventually left Sig's & Carl at the appt whilst we went to Mojo's to chill.

Sig's foot was actually quite swollen, all this happened after I'd contacted Corrine, an instructor (friend of the family) in Puy St Vincent to give them a lesson, and was not looking too good for Sig's to do that!

In Mojo's picked up my Email whilst doing a recruitment page for Tim & Mel in Mojo's and Tracy & Bing had sent me this picture of a Bouquetin, like an Ibex, which are quite common just up the road from us, though I have not seen any this year!

Sunday 3rd April - Extreme Walking, Skiing & Snowboarding
Start of our final week, and I dropped Elaine, Siggy and Carl off at Aravet. Elaine back on skis and Carl & Sigs carrying on with learning to snowboard.

Another summer's day here, so Kiki and I set off from the old village of La Salle les Alpes and headed up the dirt  road that goes to various summer houses. After a while the dirt track disappeared and I was left with a gnarly old footpath that goes up really steeply. I was hiking up with my poles so taking a lot of pressure off the knee, but going uphill I can go up like a fecking Mountain Goat but it's the coming back down that's really tough.

Luckily the footpath merged higher up with another track serving more summer houses and it was all in an area that I ski toured a few years back and walked with Pooch last year, except this year there was zero snow, and I knew the track went down at a sensible gradient.

Was amazing to see a fair percentage of the old farms / houses occupied with people having lunch on the terrace.

All in all a good walk clocking up 500m vertical and getting a sweat up. My prognosis on the knee is that I reckon I've done my MCL and PCL (probably wrong as Doctor reckoned it was ACL) based on what I can now do with it. Having strong quads and leg muscles allows me to walk etc and I've been reading up on how it's good to keep the leg strong in advance of any potential surgery.

Pistes off Villenuve just about hanging on in there lower down

Higher up looking down to Chantermerle and Luc Alphond piste

Looking down the vallet towards Briancon!

From Elaine

So back on skis today (I just know that one day soon I'm gonna get it all wrong and wear the wrong boots for skiing/boarding). Tried to do everything but the piste ie go through trees, etc even though snow waswn't great but pistes are just a tad boring. Was the only one on Casse de Boeuf....the resort if EMPTY.

Spent some time with Siggy and Carl doing the debutante moving carpets at the top of Aravet. Went to demonstrate turns and, oh yes, wrong boots...They are now ready for a little steeper and linking turns. Fortunately snow if v soft!!!